Bat­tling dis­play at An­field Warnock’s men show their spirit but Liver­pool are just too good

Wales On Sunday - - SPORT ON SUNDAY - DO­MINIC BOOTH Foot­ball Writer do­minic.booth@waleson­

CARDIFF City did some­thing no Pre­mier League side had man­aged since Feb­ru­ary in breach­ing Liver­pool’s de­fence at An­field, but their valiant ef­fort was killed off with a ruth­less fin­ish from the hosts.

Sa­dio Mane’s brace in­spired Jur­gen Kiopp’s side to a 4-1 vic­tory, though Cardiff had briefly dreamed of snatch­ing a point af­ter Cal­lum Pater­son’s goal made it 2-1.

That strike ended a run of 918 min­utes since West Ham got a goal in Liver­pool’s back­yard.

Mo­hamed Salah and Xher­dan were also on the score­sheet for the Reds in a com­pelling con­test on Mersey­side.

Af­ter a pa­tient start, Liver­pool pounced in the 10th minute when Salah cap­i­talised on a missed clear­ance from Sol Bamba and swept home af­ter Sean Mor­ri­son had blocked Mane’s shot.

The Reds then came close to a sec­ond within three min­utes of the first, Vir­gil Van Dijk beat­ing Bamba in the air and strik­ing the wood­work af­ter latch­ing onto Salah’s cross.

It was a chas­ten­ing first half for the Cardiff de­fence, Bamba in par­tic­u­lar strug­gling to con­tain the quick­sil­ver Liver­pool at­tack.

Neil Etheridge made an ex­cel­lent dou­ble in­ter­ven­tion to stop Salah af­ter a cat­a­strophic er­ror from Bamba af­ter 20 min­utes but oth­er­wise, de­spite Liver­pool’s over­whelm­ing first half dom­i­nance, the Cardiff keeper didn’t have a shot to save.

It was ac­tu­ally Mor­ri­son’s head which kept Cardiff in the con­test on the stroke of half-time as the cap­tain nod­ded off the line to pre­vent the hosts dou­bling their lead.

Cardiff im­proved af­ter the break. They had the ball in Liver­pool’s net on 52 min­utes, only for Mor­ri­son to be flagged off­side af­ter nod­ding home from Vic­tor Ca­ma­rasa’s free­kick - via a touch from Bamba.

That seemed to em­bolden the vis­i­tors who started to press Liver­pool into mak­ing the odd mis­take.

There were two big penalty shouts for Liver­pool in the sec­ond half, both

for hand­ball, but ref­eree Stu­art At­twell waved them away.

Cardiff then paid the price for more in­de­ci­sive de­fend­ing, Mane smash­ing into the far cor­ner af­ter Bruno Manga was wrong-footed.

But the vis­i­tors kept fight­ing and were re­warded 12 min­utes from time when Pater­son poached at the back post and turned home Ju­nior Hoi­lett’s de­flected cross to make it 2-1.

That looked to set up a grand­stand fin­ish with Cardiff search­ing for a fa­mous equaliser.

In­stead sub­sti­tute Shaqiri slot­ted a fine fin­ish be­yond Etheridge be­fore Mane added a fourth to seal it for Liver­pool - but not af­ter Cardiff had given them a real fright.

Liver­pool’s Vir­gil van Dijk gets away from Cardiff scorer Cal­lum Pater­son

Sa­dio Mane cel­e­brates his sec­ond and Liver­pool’s fourth goal at An­field yes­ter­day

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